Oct 13, 2014

On Adventures, Excellence, and Perfection

Usually I write my blog posts on Sunday, but this mish mash of thoughts was still perculating on Sunday as I snuggled in for the third night in a row and read two very different books.  As in, one was a decor book and one was on leadership.   However, God has a funny way of teaching me and He masterfully tied those two together in my brain to show me something I needed to learn.  An "Aha!" moment, if you will. On a side note, the third was on philosophy and science but somehow that didn't connect quite yet, though I'm sure God will when the timing is right.

 I know.  My interests are all over the board, don't even try to find the logical thread.  There is no such thing.  And then God makes one as only He can with a head like mine.

Do you ever have those moments when you know God is taking you to a pit stop on your adventure together?  I'm in a moment like that right now.  Adventures with God are curvy.  It may seem to take you here, there and everywhere.  Sometimes the adventure doesn't even seem to connect to the finished life goal you would like to see one day.  Sometimes that adventure takes us through hurdles and seeming road blocks to expose layers of personality and character that God needs to change and mature. But really, challenges add and don't detract from God's vision of fashioning you.  God has the finished vision in His mind and He can sometimes take us to destinations on the way that seem very out of place but are vital to our finished work and design, just out of view to us, but never to God.

So, in this spot, right here, with the "together we are adventurers" sign and the map garland of places we have lived and laughed hanging over my head, God took me to a new destination spot.

The first book is this one, The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith.  I've followed the Nester's blog for pretty much forever and I was eager to read this book of hers.  Her tagline is "it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful".  Which means she's my kind of gal if you even only kinda caught the gyst of my last post.  The book was as much as an excellent philosophy of living as much as it was a decor book.  I felt my soul saying, "Yep, yes, uh huh!" as I read and smiled along.  I couldn't put it down.
In one chapter, Myquillan quotes Sandy Coughlin who wrote: "Excellence is working toward an attainable goal that benefits everyone, while perfection comes from a place of great need - usually the need to avoid criticism and gain praise and approval from others."  Myquillan was pointing out that our homes need to fit the needs of the people who live there and comfort for those we invite in and not reach the unattainable goal of perfection which has us apologizing for and being ungrateful for the home we have been given.  This was about homes but my brain went elsewhere.  While I seem to have that somewhat nailed lately in the way of my home, God grabbed me and pointed out that I didn't have that so much nailed in other areas of my life.  And He was very painfully specific when I stopped to talk to Him about it in prayer.  Ouch.  God brought me to a screeching halt on the adventure train and asked me to camp out here for a while and this idea of excellence versus perfectionism.  Excellence is about others and goals that are attainable.  Perfectionism, while it sounds nice, is really all about me reaching for the unattainable and approval.  Again, a theme appears, which has been a theme all over this blog for months:  Its all about love.  God just showed up again and gave me another facet.

The second book I have just finished reading is this one, "Leading Up" by Joel Maynard.  I'm learning how to become a better leader in the role I have been given as a director the children's program at our church.  I have 80 volunteers working the program and I answer to people over me for how well it's running.  Eighty!  I don't know who's reading this but its a lot to me. That kind of responsibility is humbling, invigorating, frustrating, frightening, exciting, fulfilling, delightful and every other emotion in between.  It's not secret to anyone I work with that this was a job I turned down more than once through the years.  It's also not a secret that God definitely put me in this job through a series of twisty events straight from crazy town and I am 100% committed to it knowing God has a purpose for me here in this season.  God's adventure for my life is often laughable, often surprising, and very delightful. But just knowing an adventure is from God should also tip me off that He is planning on stretching and growing something in me. Doggone. Gear up.

 On a bad day whatever we do is about perfection - which Joel labels "insecure pride".  On a good day, it's about excellence - which he labels "humble confidence".   It was such a good read for those in leadership who lead in the middle  (which lets be honest, is just about everyone in leadership). In other words, you lead some, you answer to some, and navigating that tricky ground in-between, in a way the benefits all parties, is a challenging adventure.
I want to be able to have so much more of the humble confidence.  It's a work in progress over here. Humility to know it's never about me and to value everyone around me, over and under. Confidence that who I am and the way God has designed me gives me something to offer and I can speak into others.  It's delicate balance of listening and speaking all in a posture of love and edification of others.

Some say, well, I don't lead anyone nor do I have much to offer.  Halt right there and let me call that statement a bunch of unicorn poop.   You do.  You have much to offer and God will call you on this adventure too. If there is one confidence I know: God takes every child He has on crazy, exhilarating road trips. Sure, it may not be in vocational ministry but you have been specifically designed.  God's calling is to walk with Him on an adventure where he will ask you to offer what you are to others and develop in love.  As you offer more, He gives you more.  And before you know it, you are leading.  Leading is not an adventure for a few, it's an adventure for all who call Him Father and trust Him no matter where the adventure leads.  Maybe I should share how I ended up in the job I am in today, but that's another post.  Just know it didn't follow any typical "how to earn yourself a job" routes.  Nothing in my life ever seems to work out that way, nor do I usually seek out leadership opportunities.  

Be faithful, hold your hands open, and see.  I've learned to hold things loosely as the adventure takes me on many stops, but give it my all while I'm there.
One other thought.  When God gives you the next step, He throws in a mix of sugar and spice.  Delight and stretching.  Often pain.  
I would say that this adventure isn't for the faint of heart, but in the odd dichotomy of how God's kingdom works, I would say it IS a perfect fit for the faint of heart.  Yes, He stretches, but you are in the safest hands who WILL. NOT. LET. YOU. FALL.  You never grunt it out on your own and you will become more beautiful and whole than you ever thought possible.  His pain is the pain of a surgeon who is repairing.  It is not the pain of destruction from chainsaw (though it can feel like it, ask me how I know).  

So I would say go on your excellent adventure.
But then this reminds me of "Bill and Ted".  Does that totally negate what I just wrote with my clearly superior taste in movie quotes? 
 Still with me?  
Then let me lay one on you:
When you go on an this adventure you might just think in the words of Bill, "Ted, you and I have witnessed many things, but nothing as bodacious as what just happened."

Bodacious.  Welp.  Since I can't top that with anything much more eloquent than "bodacious", that about wraps it up.
I'm ending on a bodacious note.
The End.

1 comment:

  1. I am going to sift this over a while... Excellence versus Perfection. I love it. I need to know the difference too.